Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Lots of lots (and lots) of Curlews!

A short but good day out with Rune today around Nordre Øyeren. Not a single goose or Whooper Swan seen and very few ducks but never the less a very good day.
Highlight was a huge (!) flock of 380 Curlews feeding in Svellet (a more than doubling from yesterday) with a single Bar-tailed Godwit amongst them. They occasionally flew and called which was very evocative.
Curlews in Svellet

The walk out to Årnestangen was nearly birdless except for 2 Great Grey Shrikes and a hunting Rough-legged  Buzzard. Snekkervika held an early Greenshank and we had a hunting Merlin here which narrowly missed taking a Chaffinch.
At Dynovika 28 Green Sandpiper were feeding close to each other and at Tuentangen we had an Osprey and another Merlin.

There are generally more passerines around with small flocks of Meadow Pipits, White Wagtails, Chaffinches and now a few Bramblings and these provide food for the Merlins.
I spent more time than usual looking at the White Wagtails as there have been a number of reports of Pied Wagtails recently although most of the photos I have seen are not classic birds and in my opinion best described as ”intermediates” or hybrids. Going through the wagtails there is also so much variation within White Wagtail with 1st summer females looking almost like juveniles and some adult females being hardly distinguishable from adult males. A flock of 100 White Wagtails at Tuentangen revealed none with a darker back but at Merkja we had one bird with a distinctly darker back and flanks. In the bins it was a very good candidate for a female Pied Wagtail but when looking through the scope not everything was right. To start with it seemed to be a male due to a very black hood, large white forehead and large and well defined black bib. The back/mantle was darkest at the top and merged into the black nape but became paler as it went down towards the rump and the rump itself was grey. The grey rump is not right for Pied and the dark upper mantle is not right for White. It is either a hybrid or a so called intermediate (see this paper)
Hybrid or "intermediate" between White (alba) and Pied (yarrelili) Wagtail

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